[WSMDiscuss] No to police violence in the US and elsewhere
tord.bjork at gmail.com
Mon Jun 22 09:13:01 CEST 2020
There is a need for international solidarity with the protesters against
police violence in the US. After participating in several international
meetings discussing this issue I suggest the following demands in a common
Solidarity with oppressed people in the US and elsewhere
We stand by those protesting against the killing of George Floyd. The
protests erupting all over the US against racist police violence calls for
solidarity. We have recently seen violence in the US against indigenous
protesters protecting their land and water. This shows how those in power
take any means at their disposal to protect their world order by violence
against ethnic or other oppressed groups and people.
We suggest a week of action beginning on Sunday June 28th and ending on
Saturday July 4th.
Choose the demands and place of protests that suit your local conditions
the best. We suggest for coordinated international efforts the
- No to police violence in the US and nowhere else!
- Amnesty to the protesters!
- We are in this situation together - Stop separating good and bad
- Stop militarization of domestic and international relations - No to the
US or any other state policing the world.
- And violence against oppressed ethnic, class, gender, religious, caste,
indigenous or any other group or people.
- We need peace on earth and peace with earth!
At the core of the conflict is growing violence in the world against all
underprivileged groups in society, often with very long roots as in the
case of colonialism and slavery. There are growing tensions in the world
causing protests in many countries. They arise due to different immediate
reasons. What we need is solidarity among all oppressed. Do not let the
rich and powerful divide and rule.
The present civilizational model is built on oppression. Sometimes older
than colonialism as the violence against women or lower castes. Sometimes
due to new forms of use of technology threatening mankind as the atomic
bomb or global surveillance to extract natural resources. The protesters
may have social or environmental concerns, the violence and killings
against them are the same. Thus the support to the US or any other state,
corporation or privileged group using violence to maintain their
supremacy must end.
The discussion on how to show solidarity with the protests in the US has
started in several places. Of crucial importance is in what way those
protests have a common interest with concerns in other countries and
places. Such a common interest is the basis of all solidarity.
I have participated in three international discussions on this issue, one
with peace, environmental, solidarity and trade union activists from Nordic
countries, one with European section of the International People's Assembly
and one with activists coming together addressing the East-West divide,
only the last one had US participants. The flood of information on social
media and by e-mails have been less useful. The content is mainly
commenting news. Not even crucial issues as if there are any common demands
at all for the protests in the US that we can support is missing as far as
I have seen.
According to the US activists explaining to others at the meeting mentioned
above there are no coordinated national demands, the protests are local
with diverging demands, sometimes quite different. An international
coordinated solidarity action would thus be helpful, they say.
Interesting is also Palestinian and Russian comments. A Palestinian
activist said that protests against the killing of George Floyd does not
evoke much reaction among Palestinians as such killings is executed by
Israeli police and military on a daily basis. A Russian activist noted that
institutionalized racism of the US kind is not present in the
political consciousness in Russia since Soviet Union opposed such racism.
For the Russian public and social movements social justice is a more
important issue. Furthermore if the left opposition focus upon protests
against the US it is acting similarly as the government and official view
This shows clearly the problems we face if we want solidarity with the
oppressed in the US to be of common concern in other parts of the world.
Different ways to address this have been proposed. One is to link the issue
of violence in the US to that against Palestinians. There are several
arguments for this. The technique used to kill George Floyd is regularly
used also by the Israeli armed forces and police, the Minneapolis police
force has actually been trained in Israel, a country serving the world as
an oppressive model. The proposed unilateral annexation of the banks of
Jordan in Palestine supported by the US against the rule of law shows the
intimacy between US and Israeli violence. Others oppose such connection as
part of a common call. Either because this opens up the issue of mentioning
other cases or because they want to focus only upon the US domestic and
Others address the social issues linked to the oppression as has been
recently exposed due to the Covid-19 pandemia. They propose to add such
things as universal health care or similar policies.
Yet another notion is to question the role this kind of temporary protests
might have. At the Nordic meeting it was reported that in Finland there
have been several such temporary antiracist protests often organized by
leftist activists and supported by liberal media. Scepticism against the
result of such protests was expressed as none of the protests had resulted
in any political demands directed against EU:s Fortress Europe or other
My comment has been that the whole framing of the issue as an issue of
racism rather than the more universal issue of police violence as part of
oppression is problematic. The global dominance of US political culture is
causing a bias towards american models of understanding the world. Thus
climate justice and a just transition is replaced by the Green New Deal,
and civil rights becomes more central than social rights for all.
The solution to some is to combine solidarity with the protests against
racist police violence in the US with protests against American policing of
the world, against US imperialism and exclude any other actor or issue.
This is the classical state centric left wing position shared by many mass
movements in the South.
The environmental movement has another more inclusive tradition. Kein AKW
in Brokdorf und auch nicht anderswo (No nuclear power plant in Brokdorf and
none elsewhere either) was the classical demand in Germany that brought
together local resistance in a common struggle against coråporations and
the state, soon used in many parts of the world. Thus it is not only the
state which is addressed but the whole development model with a firm
solidarity with all others in the same battle all over the world. This kind
of demand does not exclude criticism of the state, on the contrary, but
puts the struggle in a wider socio-ecological and international context.
The concern that the protests only are of temporary character is to be
taken into account. It has been stated recently that the many protests that
erupted last year in very many countries have very different objectives and
are all spontaneously organized with the exception of Ecuador. Here CONAIE,
a coalition of indigneous people from the Amazonina of lowland and the high
plateau descendants of the Incas was able to lead the struggles of many
groups in society and win some demands. As the civilizational difference
between the lowland and the high plateau indigenous people is greater than
between the high plateau Inca descendants and Europeans this is of special
The criticism against those organizing temporary protests can also be put
forward against political parties, NGOs in people's movements. Also here
the issues addressed are often temporary. They are often chosen
opportunistically depending on what mass media, donors or
competition between different political factions also among like minded
groups. This spring it was Covid 19, now it is racism and last year it was
Walden Bello recently analyzed the global situation saying that now is the
time to act and put forward more radical demands. It was not possible
during the so-called financial crisis 2008. But now with the Covid crisis
19 people are more prepared to respond to calls for action in a more
decisive manner as the backlash after the crisis showed that if we don't
the price will be higher and higher. Thus we may say that the temporary
mobilizations after 2008 paralleled with a decline in internationalistic
antiglobalization campaigning in the North is the result of failure of
everyone, at least including people's movements and parties in the North.
If we can point on a central message that unites all these temporary (and
in some case lasting as the Yellow Wests and CONAIE) we could support a
growing awareness and exchange of experience that would help to build and
internationalist movement against false solutions to the crisis of the
present development model and world order and promote alternatives at both
local and global level.
Eric Tousaint brings up the same problem in his call for ""Launching a new
powerful international social and political movement".
One could say that looking at the experience of the temporary mobilizations
and their limited local or thematic scope as well as lack of accumulated
organizational capacity one should be cautious about how much can be gained
by organizing international solidarity around one of these mobilizations.
One can also ask whether the platform for such an
internationalist solidarity mobilization could be made in such a way that
it becomes of more universal value.
Antiracism in alliance with liberals that diminish the issue to system
friendly protests is maybe not the only possibility. One should be aware
that companies like Black Rock, Goldmann and Sachs, HM etc support protests
against racist police violence.
A way forward could be to focus upon police violence, something of concern
for all temporary protests or planned organized action. Have the US as
central both in terms of its domestic and international role but also
include actors elsewhere without specifying who. As proposed above
Active in Friends of the Earth Sweden and Activists for Peace which is a
member organization of both Prague Spring 2 network against right wing
extremism and populism and the International People's Assembly.
A text written by an American activist covering most of the issues
addressed in this proposal for international action:
email: tord.bjork at gmail.com, skype: tordbjork, tel: +46 (0)722 15 16 90
address: Götgatan 7 A, 29133 Kristianstad, Sweden
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